Voting for a third-party candidate in a presidential election is considered by many to be a waste of their vote. At its worse, as when Ralph Nader supposedly siphoned off votes for Al Gore in 2000, it’s blamed for aiding and abetting the victory of a nightmare candidate such as George W. Bush.
On the other hand, justifications exist for voting third party in the 2012 presidential election. At the Daily Beast, Michael Tomasky alludes to one.
Liberals are too nervous to think it, reporters too intent on a “down to the wire” narrative, and conservatives too furious and disbelieving, but it’s shaping up to be true: An extremely close election that on election night itself stands a surprisingly good chance of being not that close at all.
In other words, if Candidate X, who we dread, seems unlikely to win, we can afford to vote for a Candidate Z, about whom we’re enthusiastic, rather than Candidate Y, who has the best chance of blocking him or her. The more salient justification, however, presents itself when the extent to which Candidate Y (President Obama, in this case) reflects the interests of the rich and favors an expansionist foreign policy to only a marginally less degree than Candidate X (Romney). When the difference in the threat that the two candidates pose to the republic is negligible we need to find an alternative to both.
After the Green Party convention, where Jill Stein was nominated for president and Cheri Honkala for vice president, Nora Caplan-Bricker of the New Republic reported on yet another reason for voting third party.
By far the most common answer to my question—“Why vote for a candidate who won’t win?”—is that it’s important to “vote your values.” Greens talk about voting as a form of self-expression, as if it’s irrelevant whether you put someone in office by doing it. … Stein says her campaign is like “political therapy” for people who have had “self-destructive relationships to politics, like being stuck in an abusive relationship.” And her supporters think it will eventually work: Greens between the ages of 27 and 92 told me they think it’s possible they’ll see a president from the party in their lifetimes—that if they keep offering “political therapy,” mainstream voters who are frustrated by politics will start to want it: maybe in four years, maybe in eight, maybe in 50 or more.
At the New York Times, Susan Saulny reported:
A general internist who grew impatient with the social and environmental roots of disease, Ms. Stein said, ‘I’m now practicing political medicine because politics is the mother of all illnesses.'”
In other words, shifting the electorate to where it will stop voting out of fear is a long process, but one that needs to begin at some point.
Ms. Stein and Ms. Honkala’s key platform, reports Yana Kunichoff at Truthout, “is the Green New Deal, a jobs program which she says will both build on the success of the New Deal in the 1930s and also help move the United States toward a sustainable, green economy.” As an example of their foreign policy platform, which fundamentally revolves around drastically cutting military spending, let’s examine excerpts from their stance towards Israel and Palestine.
We recognize that Jewish insecurity and fear of non-Jews is understandable in light of Jewish history of horrific oppression in Europe. However, we oppose as both discriminatory and ultimately self-defeating the position that Jews would be fundamentally threatened by the implementation of full rights to Palestinian-Israelis and Palestinian refugees who wish to return to their homes. …. We reaffirm the right and feasibility of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes in Israel. … We reject U.S. unbalanced financial and military support of Israel while Israel occupies Palestinian lands and maintains an apartheid-like system in both the Occupied Palestinian Territories and in Israel toward its non-Jewish citizens. Therefore, we call on the U.S. President and Congress to suspend all military and foreign aid, including loans and grants, to Israel until Israel withdraws from the Occupied Territories, dismantles the separation wall in the Occupied West Bank including East Jerusalem, ends its siege of Gaza and its apartheid-like system both within the Occupied Palestinian Territories and in Israel toward its non-Jewish citizens.
For those of us who refuse to be guilt-tripped with charges of vote-wasting … for those of us who are tired of dragging ourselves into the polling both with heavy hearts and with only a sense of obligation — a vote for the Green Party’s presidential ticket is not just a vote against two parties that reflect the interests of a small minority of citizens, but a vote against the act of holding your nose while voting.
In other words, a vote for the Green Party is a vote for voting. And a vote for voting is also a vote for democracy.
Cross-posted from the Foreign Policy in Focus blog Focal Points.